Big 12 memo clouds the league’s expansion message

Just when you thought things could not get more embarrassing for the Big 12, which spent most of Tuesday taking potshots from pundits for Monday’s decision to pass on league expansion because of a unanimous agreement by conference presidents, an internal memo obtained by puts the league back in the comedic crosshairs.

The website shared a 714-word league memo addressing talking points for Monday night’s news conference that raise questions about whether Big 12 decision-makers truly finished in one accord on the expansion front after a public process that began on July 19.

The first two items instructed officials to “Indicate the Board arrived at a ‘Unanimous Consensus’” and say “the Board was unanimous in its desire and commitment to stay at 10 members.”

The memo also suggested conference officials should not “indicate that TV influenced (its) decision” and that the Big 12 was not “psychologically disadvantaged” because it did not expand after conducting in-person meetings with administrators from 11 schools considered finalists in the expansion deliberations.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma President David Boren, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, handled Monday’s news conference and frequently cited a spirit of camaraderie among league presidents. At one point, Boren said Big 12 schools “feel we belong together. We have an affection for each other.”

Based on the memo, Boren and Bowlsby were working off a script that included several “do’s” and “don’ts” during their presentation, including an effort to quash any conversation that the Big 12 is “dysfunctional.” Also, league officials were urged to stress that the end of its existing grant-of-rights agreement after the 2024-25 season “allows the Conference to be in an active marketplace” rather than cite it as a potential reason for concern about the league’s long-term staying power.

Amid the myriad of negative backlash directed at the Big 12 following its non-expansion announcement included a tweet from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on his Twitter account, @GregAbbott_TX. A University of Texas graduate who had been vocal in his support of Houston’s candidacy for membership, Abbott wrote: "The Big 12 owes a lot of people an apology. It punted on expansion & shanked its future. @UHouston deserved better."